Noob trying to determine if I'm best suited for Climbs, TTs, or Sprints

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by JamesAA, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. JamesAA

    JamesAA New Member

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    Loving cycling! I'm 5'6, 156 lbs, and muscular (upper body) for a cyclist. I'm a former wide receiver (Wes Welker type build).

    I'm guessing sprints would be my strengths. However based on my height/weight could I be a good climber or am I just too heavy (for my height)? What about TTs? I remember hearing somewhere that lighter weight guys get blown off the course pretty easily on windy days, implying a big more mass is ideal....but I really have no clue whether or not that is true.

    I did a 10.1 mile personal TT in my neighborhood (I mapped the course about 8 times on various runner websites and I get anywhere from 10.0 flat to 10.1 miles. It's actually a 1.00 or 1.01 loop I just do 10 times. There's a 13 foot elevation gain from low point to high point. So I'm totally 130 feet of elevation over the 10 miles). There was a steady wind. I performed this on a (pretty crappy) $250 road bike weighing 31 lbs. My time was: 34 minutes on the nose. I know this is not very good and I do think I had more power in me...I'm still adjusting on pacing myself. I don't know how much time I could've shaved off if I had a "real" road bike, or even a TT bike with skin suit and aero helmet. I should also mention that I did not ride in the tuck. Not straight up either, though, torso at a 45 degree angle (more or less), hands resting on the top portion of the handles. I was never really breathing heavily out of my mouth in these 34 minutes except at the very end when I gunned it. I'm assuming if I could breath out of my nose, I was holding back???

    Anyway I'd like to enter some local rec rides, but I'd like to know which discipline to focus on. I will always do some for of all 3, but I'm a competitor by nature, and I'd like to find which one I am best at so I can really focus on that.

    Based on the above, what are your thoughts?

    I'm kind of fascinated as to why some riders excel at one format but not at others. I don't know why but I find that pretty cool!


    Thanks in advance :)
     
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  2. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    Do not expect that anyone here can tell you what you are or are not good at. Ability is one part genetics and one part training.

    My thought is to not limit yourself by focusing on a discipline, your are a recreational rider and won't be winning any big races anytime soon. You can make huge gains as sprinter, TTer and climber with regular training. Make climbing, sprinting and long TT efforts part of your training routine.

    Go out and ride with others, enter a few races and you will learn what types of riding you enjoy and what you are suited for.
     
  3. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    well as far as climbing I generally do 130 feet per mile on a moderate course so I would suggest you find some hills before you make a decision about being a climber
     
  4. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    This is an interesting question that we have all probably asked at one time or other. Each discipline requires different strengths and resources. Hill climbs are all about power to weight ratio. You're pretty light, so you could definitely consider this discipline. If you want to podium, you're probably going to need at least 4.0 watts/kg and maybe higher depending on where you live. And, you'll want to have a really light bike. Unfortunately, getting your bike weight down as low as possible is more about components than frame. Lots of frames are under 1kg, so that's no problem. But, the lightest components (wheels, drivetrain, brakes, fork, handlebars, seatpost, etc.) cost a bunch. The TT discipline is more about raw power than power to weight ratio. And, the TT discipline is an arms race. You'll spend a bunch of money on a TT bike, wheels, skinsuit, special helmet, etc. The hottest TT bikes are about $10K and up, and they're hard to get. Maybe come to Interbike and buy a show bike. If your 5sec power is >1500W, you can do well in sprints, but of course you need the aerobic power to be there at the sprint finish. If your 5sec power is <1500W, then you won't win many sprints.

    Of course, the other question is what kinds of events do you enjoy? Personally, I don't like crits. They're too short and too dangerous for my taste, but they are very popular because the race organizers don't need a long course and they can run a bunch of categories in a short amount of time. You might want to try out each type of event and see which type appeals to you.
     
  5. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Cav says he hits just under 1,600 watts for most sprint when on top form - but that's during the actual sprint itself and not on a isolated test during training.

    RDO - I had to chuckle at your reply. Not sure how much of your tongue you got in your cheek.

    JamesAA. Just go out and race. You'll quickly find out what you're good at and what you ain't. Don't be too disheartened when, at your first race, you get blown out the back. Rec rides are just that - rides. You can have some guy on the ride that can ride at Warp 9 when needed but he's just out to enjoy the day with friends...
     
  6. JamesAA

    JamesAA New Member

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    Wealth of information! Thank you very much guys.

    RapDaddyo---awesome post! Educated me a lot. Much appreciated. [​IMG]
     
  7. JamesAA

    JamesAA New Member

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    Fully expecting to finish last. I've been involved at high level athletics my whole life, but I can see just from watching the Tour and some local riders in my area, that I am a back of the packer right now. Want to get better though. Too old to play football. Moreover, I don't even want to anymore. lol
     
  8. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Forget everything you see at the Tour. That in itself is completely different to the top one day Pro races, which are way way different to the nightmare that Cat5 races are.

    If you want to race just get a Cat5 license. You'll just need to complete 10 races to upgrade to Cat4. Hopefully you'll do this with bike and skin/bones in on piece. Don't bother spending hours with making the bike shiny and that the chain has just the right amount of lube to the 0.000001 of an oz. Start near the front and have fun. The start will be like Lemmings rushing to their death. Ride hard to avoid being a lemming. Some regions put on training races that are just like regular races but have experienced riders in them that'll hand out knowledge to those that need it.

    If you're uncertain about riding in a bunch, get with a local cycling club and do some training rides. Some clubs different rides for different levels. Go meet some folk and have fun with no expectations of anything.
     
  9. JibberJim

    JibberJim Member

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    Around here, the Hill Climb promoted by my club, you'll need over 6 w/kg to win the vet woman category!

    (HC's in the UK typically last minutes not longer)
     
  10. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    Actually, my main point was that one should consider both questions: (1) What disciplines am I best suited for in terms of power profile and budget? and (2) What disciplines do I enjoy? For example, I have a power profile well suited for crits (high anaerobic capacity relative to aerobic capacity), but I don't enjoy them. By contrast, I love long, hard hill climbs in spite of the fact that I have to work really hard to get under 170lbs (I would walk across hot coals to get down to the OP's weight), so I am usually at a huge disadvantage compared to the lightweight guys. I have to laugh because this past Tuesday I was on a group ride with a local woman that doesn't usually ride with us. We were on a short climb and I was doing about 325W. I looked over and she was right with me, hardly sweating. Of course, she probably weighs 120lb soaking wet. At a rest stop, I told her I want to get a racing tandem and strap her on back.[​IMG]
     
  11. JibberJim

    JibberJim Member

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    Mixed sex tandem hill climbing is probably a pretty niche sport, but it sounds quite fun, I just have to convince my wife that she'd want me as a partner in it!

    Actual mixed sex tandem racing actually is quite competitive here, a recent event one husband and wife team did a 19 ten mile TT...
     
  12. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I'd ride on the back of a tandem if Nadine Rieder was captain and rode out the saddle all the way...

    She's the lass on the right:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. upstateSC-rider

    upstateSC-rider New Member

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    Too early to tell which, if any you're strongest at...You could very well be a good all-around rider.
    Get more miles in your legs and you'll soon see how you fare in hard group rides and races.
     
  14. smaryka

    smaryka Member

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    She'd drop you in no time. Even on a tandem.
     
  15. smaryka

    smaryka Member

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    To the OP, yes just get out and ride as much as you can, in varying situations and terrains, solo and with others. Build up the miles to do long rides, do enough short hard stuff to keep it fun and interesting. Gains in the first couple of years after you start riding seriously tend to be big, then they slow down a lot, so just enjoy this early period where you will make big jumps in fitness and ability as your legs and lungs and skills start getting adapted to the sport of cycling.

    Best advice is to join a local club and start riding with them. They will know about racing (all different kinds) and also give you lots of space to stretch yourself, find riding partners, ride with lots of people, find new routes, etc.
     
    dhk2 likes this.
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